At one time, it appeared Bethel and Ferris would both enter the State AAA volleyball tournament with perfect records.
Ferris lost its perfect mark one week ago at region. Yet the Saxons were the team that played flawlessly Friday when the 16-team state tourney opened at the Arena.
Ferris swept its three matches in Pool A without dropping a game. No other 3-0 team during the day, including Bethel (31-0), could say the same.
“I think the secret is, don’t come in ranked No. 1,” said Ferris coach Stacey Ward. “I think it was like the pressure was off.”
Bethel, ranked first by the Washington State Volleyball Coaches Association, sailed along until its night match against District 3 partner Kentridge. Bethel won the first game 16-14 after trailing 14-12, dropped the second game 15-4, then returned to form with a 15-5 clincher.
“I told them (after the second game) that we were victims of an old-time butt-kicking,” said Bethel coach John Reopelle, who replaced Kevin Aoki this year after 10 years as an assistant. “I asked them how it felt, and they decided it didn’t feel very good.”
Bethel and Ferris landed in the upper bracket for today’s finals, meaning they can meet in the semifinals but not for the championship.
Ferris was just happy to be anywhere after a tumultuous week that included losing top hitter Missy Blackshire because she broke the school athletic code. Blackshire sat on the bench and led the cheers.
Fill-in Elissa Ross, a sophomore, had eight kills against Inglemoor and nine digs against Auburn.
“When kids get their shot … they nearly always do more than you expect,” Ward said.
Also leading the Saxons to their three wins were Janelle Morrisette, who had 71 assists; Darcy Ruemping (30 digs and 22 kills); and Amy George (22 kills).
Sehome of Bellingham also finished the day 3-0. The Mariners’ toughest match, an afternoon marathon that ended 17-15, 6-15, 15-13, came against second-ranked Mead.
Mead blew a 13-4 first-game lead and led the third game 9-8 before a rash of defensive errors. The Panthers shook off the loss, smoking Sumner 15-4, 15-2 in a winner-to-the-finals match at night.
Jessica Sanborn had 10 kills, Kelsey Sturm 11 assists and Alisha Simchuk 10 digs in Mead’s final win.
“I think the reason we played so well (against Sumner) was because we didn’t want to play again like we did against Sehome,” said coach Judy Kight of the Panthers.
Today’s 10 a.m. quarterfinals are Bellarmine against Ferris, Auburn against Bethel, Kentridge against Sehome and Mead against Prairie.
Winners play in the semifinals at 11:30. Placing matches begin at 4:30 p.m.; the championship is set for 9.
Every team that advanced was ranked in the top 10. District 3 and District 5-6-8 (Mead/Ferris/Davis of Yakima) had the best showings, both districts winning two-thirds of their matches. District 2 stumbled to a 1-8 record.
Heading into Friday’s night matches, only Pool D remained in limbo. In Pool A, Ferris had clinched and the Auburn-Shelton winner would earn the second seed. Bethel and Kentridge from Pool B were 2-0 and had clinched spots. In Pool C, Sehome had a berth nailed and Mead needed to beat Sumner to join in.
Pool D was a potential mess. Davis opened the day with an 8-15, 15-8, 15-13 win over Prairie. Bellarmine then beat Davis to improve to 2-0, but Prairie stayed in the hunt by topping Mount Vernon.
At night, Prairie overwhelmed Bellarmine 15-5, 15-3 to make both teams 2-1. Davis, playing Mount Vernon in the day’s final match, won the opener 15-8 after trailing 5-0. But Mount Vernon took the final two games to eliminate Davis and make a tie-breaker unnecessary. Davis played without top player Eileen Gamache, who injured her knee at region and had surgery Monday.
The day moved along on schedule, with just six of the 24 matches lasting three games. Four of those came out of scrambled Pool D.
Unlike last year, when North Central and Lewis and Clark caught fire on the first day and became immediate favorites, the field appears balanced.
“I coach a lot of these kids at the Gonzaga (University) camp,” Reopelle said. “Who knows who’s No. 1?”
“With the top eight, it just a matter of who’s on their game,” Kight said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color Photos
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: The elite eight Quarterfinal pairings for the eight teams that advanced from pool play at the WIAA/Dairy Farmers of Washington State AAA Tournament: Bellarmine vs. Ferris Auburn vs. Bethel Kentridge vs. Sehome Mead vs. Prairie
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